Gerald Barnes mug

Gerald Barnes, via OPCSO

A young couple quarreled. The boyfriend "put his hands" on the woman, her father claims. A few hours later, the young man found himself squaring off against a group of the woman's relatives in a parking lot in Gentilly. 

He managed to wound one of the woman's cousins, shooting him in the head, before he was killed, sprayed with bullets from a stolen AK-47. 

Details about the April 1 shootout surfaced in court documents filed a day after police arrested the man accused of wielding the assault rifle, Gerald Barnes, 28, on a count of second-degree murder in Alfred Johnson’s death.

It was the type of incident that police see so often in New Orleans, a personal quarrel that escalates into deadly violence. 

Christopher Patterson told police after the shootout that Johnson had gotten physical with Patterson's daughter during an argument earlier that day. Patterson, 47, and Johnson’s father then started cursing at each other over the phone and exchanged threats, police said.

Patterson and the woman's cousins, identified as Barnes and Terrell Patterson, 24, then spent the day riding around in search of Johnson, Patterson's daughter said in a 911 call shortly after the shooting occurred, according to police.

About 4:50 p.m. that day, Christopher Patterson arrived at a parking lot outside a Rite Aid pharmacy in the 3100 block of Gentilly Boulevard. Terrell Patterson was in the front passenger seat, and Barnes sat in the back, police said.

Shortly afterward, Johnson drove up in a Dodge Challenger and stepped out. Patterson drove his GMC Yukon toward the Challenger, and an exchange of gunfire erupted.

Johnson fell to the ground and scrambled for cover as the Yukon sped off, said police, describing surveillance video of the shootout. When he realized the coast was clear, Johnson jumped into his Challenger and drove off, but he had already been hit, and he crashed the vehicle, police said.

Paramedics took him to a hospital, where he died from a bullet wound to the torso, police said.

Meanwhile, Terrell Patterson was dropped off at the hospital with bullet wounds to his head, shoulder and forearm, police said. Barnes and the elder Patterson ditched the Yukon there and fled on foot.

Police said they searched both cars. In Johnson’s car, they found a .22-caliber rifle with a pistol grip, its caliber matching 17 spent bullet casings recovered in the parking lot outside the drugstore.

In Patterson’s car, they found two 9mm pistols, a .40-caliber handgun and an AK-47 with a pistol grip that had been reported stolen in Houma in December. There were six spent AK-47 shell casings and the same number of outward holes in the back passenger side door, police said.

Eventually, police were able to interview the Pattersons and Barnes, who all said Johnson fired toward their car but stopped short of saying any of them fired at Johnson.

Barnes said the group was at the pharmacy to get beer and ice. Barnes claimed he dropped to the floorboard in the back and curled in the fetal position while gripping the 9mm pistols, according to police.

Terrell Patterson told investigators that he exchanged words with Johnson before realizing he’d been shot and pleaded to be driven to the hospital. 

Yet investigators collected evidence showing Johnson was hit with bullets from an AK-47, said the warrant obtained by homicide Detective Ryan Aucoin. The casings and bullet holes in the back of the Yukon implicate Barnes as the triggerman because he had said he was in the rear seat, according to court records.

Barnes’ bail was set at $500,000 on Tuesday morning. He remained behind bars later in the day.

It does not appear either of the Pattersons has been booked in connection with the case.

Johnson was among at least 55 homicide victims reported in New Orleans this year as of Tuesday morning. 

Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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